Corby Council are to spend £40,000 employing someone to deal with a huge rise in shared accommodation in the borough.
The authority is having to create a new post to help regulate and manage houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) to protect vulnerable tenants and to make sure landlords are operating inside the law.
A report that will be presented to councillors on Tuesday showed that the council believes there to be 420 known HMOs across the borough, 218 of which have been licensed and a further 202 that are being investigated because it is believed they may need licenses. Officers know that there are some landlords who are operating without licenses and are in breach of the law.
New laws introduced last year make it mandatory for any house with five or more tenants from two or more family units to be licensed as an HMO.
The report, written by Environmental Protection and Private Sector Housing Manager Amy Plank, goes on: “Over the last two years the borough has grown in size in terms of the number of houses and with this there has been a significant increase in the number of domestic dwellings being converted into HMOs.
“Due to this legislative change, most of the HMOs that the Private Sector Housing Team deal with fit into this new category and the numbers are a lot higher than was initially expected.
“The level of demand to deal with this volume of work within the private rented sector was not known from the outset in terms of the number of non-compliant landlords operating as the priority was on processing the large number of HMO applications from the compliant landlords.
“After months of investigating and inspecting HMOs across the borough, the level of demand for and associated workload related to this new licensing function is now better known.
“The creation of the new Private Sector Housing Enforcement Officer post would provide much needed assistance in dealing with the high number of HMOs that are operating without a licence, whereby each case could potentially end up at prosecution or require the service of a Civil Penalty Notice.
“In order to take such action against individual property addresses requires a number of Officer hours to build a case, by way of carrying out inspections, gathering evidence and producing legal files.”
The new post, which will be part of the Environmental Protection and Private Sector Housing team, will be funded by fees from HMO landlords and from the £12k budget used for the authority’s former empty homes officer.
It will be discussed by councillors at Tuesday evening’s One Corby Policy Committee Meeting which takes place at 7pm at the Corby Cube and is open to the public.